Exploiting Undervalued CGC 9.6 Relative to CGC 9.8

This article explores the relationship of CGC 9.6 in the bronze age relative to what the 9.8s are commanding. In a way, this is similar to the investment framework for investing in 2nd appearances.

People want 2nd appearances when first appearances get out of reach. Similarly, collectors might settle for 9.6 when 9.8s are out of reach. The key point is to determine at what price points do collectors consider 9.8s to be out of reach.

This article was inspired by this comment from Don

“I know the 9.8 is closing in on 3k soon,but I’m looking at the 9.6 (550.00) and lower grades that IMO are bargains right now for a mega franchise which is Star Wars…even with a huge probable print run…not a crazy amount on census”

What affects the 9.8 vs 9.6 pricing gap?

Every seasoned collector will know that there is always a gap between 9.8 and 9.6 prices. However, how big should be the gap is not universally agreed. In fact, some gaps are temporary because the market adjustment for 9.6 might be slower than 9.8, resulting in some undervalued buying opportunities.

My hypothesis on what causes the gaps:

  1. Availability: If a particular 9.8 issue is harder to come by than a 9.6, it is natural to expect a bigger gap, relative to their peers. In such cases, I would not say the 9.6 is undervalued.
  1. Market Lag: As mentioned, another common reason for the gap is simply the 9.6 lagging in price reaction relative to their 9.8s. This will correct slowly over time but presents a good buying opportunity. The intention of this article is to help us identify books in this category.

For the table below, I focus on 1977 books so that I can help Don with this question. You can repeat this exercise for any years that you want to investigate.

Issues9.8 Prices
9.6 Prices
Percentage of 9.8/9.6 Prices
(Percentage Census 9.6/9.8)
Star Wars #1$2,400
X-Men #107$6,500
Marvel Spotlight #32$2,100
Eternals #13$650
2001 Space Odyssey #8$700
Links above are to Ebay. If you buy something, I will get a commission from Ebay as part of its affiliate program. If you want to support my research, using my links to buy from Ebay will be the best way.

Bench marking analysis

Doing the bench marking analysis has revealed some interesting observations. The most important being the relationship between the pricing gap of 9.8 and 9.6 vs their census gap.

Observation #1: Pricing gap vs census gap

With the exception of Marvel Spotlight #32, there seems to be a consistent relationship between pricing gap and census gap.

Specifically, the pricing gap is almost double that of the census gap. In other words, if a 9.6 has 100% more copies on the census than 9.8, the 9.8 will have a price that is 200% more than the 9.6.

We see this relationship manifesting across a wide range of prices of census availability in the different books. This result is really surprising to me as I haven’t notice this pattern before.

The only exception is Marvel Spotlight #32. This means that either the 9.6 is overvalued or the 9.8 will have about 100% more growth left.

Observation #2: The ceiling on 9.6 is pretty low

Across the different comics, you can see that a 1977 9.6 hits the ceiling at around $600-$700. The only book I know that has a higher price than this ceiling is Iron Fist #14 9.6. Compared to the thousands of dollars that a 9.8 is commanding, this seems low.

This info is useful if you are thinking of investing in a late bronze age 9.6. With the ceiling being in the $600-$700 range, you can then work backwards to know how much potential gain can be had from a 9.6 investment.

The key question is whether CGC 9.6 as an investment class can increase over time. I believe it can if the 9.8s cross a certain threshold of affordability. I believe that threshold to be in the above 5000 digits with census gap around the 200-300% market.

Observation #3: Look for comics with high census gap

Census gap refers to the difference between the 9.8 and 9.6. In our table, the book with the highest gap is X-Men #107. Due to large differences, you can see how high the prices of 9.8 have spiked relative to 9.6.

Another example of this is X-Men #120, published in 1979. This book also has a pretty huge census gap between 9.8 and 9.6, resulting in a high 9.8 price relative to the 9.6.

Unfortunately, this info is not easy to obtain as you need to manually scan through all the census info to get that piece of valuable nugget.


The relationship between 9.8 and 9.6 is an interesting one. Currently, not much in depth study has been done which I think is a missed opportunity.

Just as how early bronze age CGC 8.5 and 8.0 is now a $1k book, it is pretty possible that some late bronze age CGC 9.6 can become 4 digit books within the next few years.

5 thoughts on “Exploiting Undervalued CGC 9.6 Relative to CGC 9.8

  1. Great article, actually this exposure can be said especially in Modern Age books. I think people are. Fool for discounting 50% of the price just because its a 9.6 and not a 9.8. I think grabbing all the 9.6 you can right now is a smart move becAuse eventually people will wAke up and realize its not worth double the price difference between 9.6 and 9.8. If these two grades have a Slim difference then the price should show that as well, the price should have a Slim difference and it will, it eventually will. So stock up on 9.6 right now

  2. Thank you Aaron for mentioning me in this article…I appreciate you diving into the analytics of the 9.6-9.8 price gaps…great information as usual…

  3. I’ve always looked forward to your excellent articles. My question is regarding Marvel Super Special 16. Is the book unknown or disregarded by collectors on account of its format? If it’s the latter reason, early TMNT books wouldn’t be collectible. I thought it being published in a one shot format probably detracts from its value. Being published outside of the normal Star Wars run probably has the affect of being hidden and suppressing its collectibility. Nevertheless, a single book containing multiple 1st appearances seems hard to ignore eventually. That’s what puzzles me. Any advice or thoughts on this?

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